Richards Bay Terminal’s R3-billion equipment replacement programme has kicked off with the arrival this week of a custom-built pneumatic ship unloader.
Port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), which allocated R12.1-billion of its R33-billion budget over the next seven years to the Richards Bay bulk export facility, aimed to improve capacity, equipment reliability and service delivery.
The unloader, produced by shipping manufacturer Rio Tinto Alcan Alesa Engineering and the seventh of its kind in the world, had a 1 000 t/h capacity. It enabled the unloading of alumina and petcoke from vessels, while facilitating a consistent and dust-reduced material flow.
“This investment...will make a remarkable difference in enabling the plant to achieve improved operating efficiencies and deliver on customer expectations,” said TPT’s Richards Bay Terminal head Victor Mkhize.
Once the unloader arrived, TPT would start assembling, endurance testing, hot and cold commissioning, as well as operator training before handover.
“The offloader will significantly improve the efficiency of BHP Billiton’s operation and will undoubtedly make a positive impact in reducing spillages,” said TPT client BHP Billiton Aluminium SA asset president Lucas Msimanga.
TPT CEO Karl Socikwa commented that the acquisition of the unloader was in line with the aims of State-owned freight group Transnet’s market demand strategy (MDS), which earmarked R300-billion for capital projects over the next seven years.
“The MDS has major implications for our division’s [TPT’s] responsibility to facilitate unconstrained growth, unlock demand and create world-class port operations through improved efficiencies,” he said in a statement.
TPT aimed to, over the next seven years, spend about R1.2-billion on capacity creation, including new or upgraded storage areas and port re-engineering to create additional capacity, as well as legal compliance, environmental and safety critical projects. A further R3.7-billion would be set aside for “capital-sustaining investments”, which included mobile equipment, quayside equipment and weighbridges.